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Digital disruption has helped organizations identify various avenues to unlock new business value, increase agility, create networked economies, and cater to customer’s specific needs. One mustn’t forget, however, that the digital age is still in the infancy stage; unable yet to fully add value to certain parts of life and business. As a result, a core balance that organizations are struggling to manage is that of the NOW and the NEXT. While it is creating new opportunities for organizations, digital disruption is also creating challenges for important focus areas of the organization: Safety and Security, Ethics and Compliance, and Culture and Diversity.
Safety & Security
The industrial age had organizations fear for the safety of the physical aspects of man, machine, and infrastructure. Insurance policies, therefore were created and deployed to secure life, health, buildings, and other infrastructure. While these issues continue to worry businesses in the digital age, they have the added pressure of cyber-security emerging from the complex interconnectedness of technology in various services.
The first of these worries is data privacy. In December 2012, Instagram claimed to have perpetual right of selling user photos for advertising purposes without payment or notification. More recently, Facebook has been in the news since the beginning of 2018 over allegations on data theft. While both organizations have taken measures since to protect user data, the damage is already done. While the world continues to understand digital potential, leaks commonly occur that can make or break individuals and corporations without them having a clue.
For industries in the healthcare, manufacturing and public utilities businesses, digital also has the potential to amplify the existing threat around physical safety. Automation and data technology may serve the important function of providing data to support faster decision making, but over reliance on technology may not always cater to taking the right decisions. In other words, data analytics doesn’t always consider the context of the situation.
Ethics & Compliance
Digital has placed the corporation under strict scrutiny from consumers, investors, government, and regulatory bodies. Transparency has become the key driver of business. Hence, there is no place for skeletons in the digital closet. However, when dealing with a complex network of people, ideas, and processes all working together, compliance becomes a serious threat in the digital age. Compliance issues manifest in several ways:
- Social media platforms have given every one of the 7 billion strong world population a voice of individualism. While social media platforms have been the source of revolutions in the last decade, there have been enough and more examples of the wrongful use of social media having dire consequences for employees and organizations alike:
- 13 employees of Virgin Airlines were fired for using Facebook to bad-mouth passengers and joke about faulty engines.
- Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for Tennessee Republican Representative Stephen Lee Fincher lost her job over critical remarks she posted on Facebook about Barack Obama’s daughters during his reign as President.
- Fraud is a challenge that will never disappear. As solutions evolve to challenge the existing risks, new risks will take their place. Each time that fraud takes places, there is a lack of compliance, that could lead to major risks. In the current landscape, digitizing systems can only do so much that the work is produced faster, and sometimes with more precision. However, take the coal mine. Workers here need permits to be allowed to even enter the premise, let alone work. Organizations may decide to automate the process of issuing permits. The technology can be coded to consider certain criteria. Person A might have his papers in order. At the time of approval, his face is sweating, and he is known to have a heart issue. A machine cannot detect this behavior, resulting is a loss of safety for everybody in the worksite. The bottom line is that there are always going to be situations and processes that require human intervention due to the sensitivity of the job.
Culture & Diversity
Culture is one of the building blocks of an organization. As such, the most revolutionary organizations in the world spend significant time and energy on creating and maintaining a culture within the organization., managing the various types of diversity that exists – gender, age, ethnicity, geography, values and beliefs, etc. Thus far, organizations have managed culture by categorizing its employees into these various buckets and attempting to understand the nuances of each group.
As a result, empowering women employees, managing millennials, managing a multicultural workforce, leveraging a virtual employee base are some of the areas that organizations invest in. The current workforce comprises the most diverse set of individuals ever. This is true in more ways than one. Technology and Digital Platforms are busting the myth that certain behaviors and qualities exemplify a generation. Social media platforms, for example, have empowered people to understand the world and connect with people in a much different and more complex manner; Facebook and WhatsApp have replaced churches, political groups and clubs as social centers.
Digital platforms have also allowed individuals across generations to explore and express their sense of individuality, distorting the generalizations made about each cohort group. Because of this form of diversity, culture within organizations has to be fluid, to cater to all.
Considering the ways in which Digital is affecting some of the existing agendas, organizations have the immense responsibility of managing the present business scenario as well as preparing for what’s to come next. After all, the survival of business depends on it.
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